Nagpur resident Manoj Kumar faces taunts and verbal abuse from his daughter-in-law and son every day. "I am retired and do not get any pension. They abuse me as they think I have hidden my money," says 62-year-old Kumar, an ex-employees of a private firm.
Mansi Devi's condition is no different. The 60-year-old Delhi resident says, "At my son's place, I am given just two chapatis a day." Gautam Das, 62, from Kolkata too is in a precarious situation. "My own nephews beat me up so brutally that I could not move out of the bed for seven days," said Das.
The latest report by non-profit HelpAge India – Beaten in body, mind and spirit – paints a dark picture of the state of senior citizens in India. The survey of 1,200 elderly conducted in 12 cities, including Mumbai and Nagpur, states that nearly 50 per cent of the respondents faced some form of abuse. The figure was 23 per cent last year.
India currently has nearly 10 crore people who are above 60 and the number is expected to touch 32 crore by 2050, which will about one-fifth of the country's population then.
In all cities, over 70 per cent of the elderly surveyed knew that a police helpline existed but they were reluctant to approach cops as they felt this would disturb the family atmosphere. About 41 per cent choose to keep mum and put up with the torture.
Daughter-in-law has emerged as the biggest perpetrator of the abuse, reveals the survey, with 61 per cent of the senior citizens blaming her for their miseries. However, 14% also reported that their daughter was abusing them.
Close to 47% of elderly in Mumbai admitted to having being abused at least once in a week continuously for between three and five years. Up to 92% of these elderly own the house they reside in. The study reveals that half of them are prisoners in their own property. About 25 senior citizens complained of unwelcome or forcible sexual contact.
The survey also points to poor awareness levels among the victims about the law such as Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007 to protect senior citizens. "The elderly do not report crimes committed against them as they wanted to maintain confidentiality of family matter. Also there is a fear of retaliation from children," said Prakash Borgaonkar, director, HelpAge India, Mumbai.
No relief from tormentors
Nagpur tops the list with 85% respondents claiming abuse, followed by Bangalore (75%)
Type of abuse Respondents (%)
Verbal abuse 31
Economic exploitation 9
Sexual contact 3
61% see daughter-in-law as the biggest perpetrator of abuse
14% say daughter abuses them
47% elderly in Mumbai say they are being abused at least once a week
92% respondents own the house they reside in
Helplines for elderly
Dignity Foundation's help line for senior citizens: 23898078
Mumbai Police Line: 1090
HelpAge India – 1800 180 1253
Shree Manav Seva Sangh: 24081487